Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments in America. A whopping 90% of Americans have requested to get their teeth whitened during their last visit according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
So what is all the demand about? Can tooth whitening really be worth it? We will look at these and other questions as we explore what goes into getting that brighter smile that you’re after. Some options are best performed by professionals who can deliver fast, long-lasting results, but there are some at-home kits that can do a decent job at getting your teeth just a few shades lighter.
Why Are My Teeth Yellow? I Take Care Of Them!
Yellow teeth are a natural result of a variety of factors that can discolor the teeth. Factors like:
- Consuming staining food and drink. Drink options like coffee, tea, and wine are just some of the foods that can stain the teeth. Why is that? They all have special pigments that can attach to the enamel, the white outer part of the tooth.
- Tobacco use can directly stain the teeth and have a major impact on your oral health beyond yellow teeth. The tar and the nicotine present in the tobacco discolor and stain the tooth surfaces. Nicotine turns yellowish when exposed to oxygen.
- Trauma to the tooth can also cause tooth discoloration. This is because the tooth will produce more dentin, a strong, dark layer beneath the translucent enamel.
- Some medications can stain the teeth or discolor them, which can be a side effect of some antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications. Some antibiotics and chemotherapy can also stain the teeth.
- Age is the most common factor of discolored teeth. The outer layer of the teeth, called the enamel, will naturally become thinner so that the darker dentin layer will show through.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
The term “teeth whitening” can be applied to any process in which the teeth are made to appear shades lighter. This is done by changing the color of the enamel, the outermost layer of the tooth. The most common active ingredient to achieve this is called hydrogen peroxide and it is delivered either as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
The hydrogen peroxide breaks down the unstable free radicals in the tooth, allowing for smaller and less pigmented tooth enamel. This reflects less light and causes a whitening effect.
Dental professionals should be consulted to ensure that they are able to correctly identify the type, intensity, and location of the discoloration and recommend the right treatment to correct it.
Some factors include how long the tooth is exposed to the bleaching agent and how concentrated the bleaching agent determines how white the tooth will become.
Dentists will have the best access to the tools and techniques to powerfully change your smile into the beautiful one that you are after.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
There are a few options that you have when getting your teeth whitened by a professional. Some options are:
- A dentist will create a mold of your teeth for you to take home and fill with a bleaching gel. This treatment will generally last 2 to 4 weeks and has the benefit of being a custom shaped mold for your mouth.
- Laser whitening can whiten the teeth by activating the bleaching compounds that are carefully painted onto your teeth. This generally takes about an hour to complete and can result in a dramatic transformation of the teeth.
- Another technique is called chairside bleaching. The dentist applies a protective gel or shield over the gums and then applies the bleaching agent onto the teeth. This often will only need one visit to complete.
What Is The Best Whitener For Your Teeth?
If you are looking for an at-home solution, the best whitener for your teeth will be the one that fits with your lifestyle and your budget. Luckily there are a ton of options on the market. This makes it super easy to find something that could fit with your budget and life. Be sure to do your research on the effectiveness a treatment has had for other people.
Some of your options include:
- Using tooth whitening strips. These small pieces of plastic that are coated with the bleaching agent and they stick easily to the teeth without slipping around. Some of them even come with a small version of the laser treatment that dentists use. These strips are generally applied for about an hour every day for a few weeks.
- Budget options include tooth whitening toothpaste which can gently improve your smile over a long period of time. These are mostly good for preventing future stains and getting rid of old ones with the power of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Just don’t expect dramatic results.
- For sensitive teeth, you can find special whitening strips that are made from all-natural ingredients. These might include salt, coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil. These are good to use on crowns, porcelain caps, and veneers.
Can It Be Bad For Your Teeth?
Teeth whitening does have a few side effects. There is a chance that your gums will be sensitive to the bleaching agent and may bleach if the bleach is not properly applied. This is why having a dentist apply the gels is so important.
If you already have sensitive teeth, tooth whitening can cause them to be even more sensitive for a short period of time.
Dentists are trained to get you the best results and they are able to properly apply and recommend the right treatment to fit your budget and how many shades lighter you want to go. They also are able to provide faster results that last longer than any at-home kit.
What Do You Avoid After Teeth Whitening?
Here are the top five foods to avoid after getting your teeth whitened:
- Dark or strongly colored liquids. This includes red wine, coffee, and tea. Drinks like soda and tomato juice also make the list.
- Acidic beverages like soda should be avoided. This includes fruit juice and alcohol. The acidic environment created by these drinks stains your newly whitened teeth.
- Sugary foods and drinks should be avoided too. If you didn’t already need an excuse to cut back on cakes, candy, cookies, and soda, protecting your teeth is a great one.
- Food with added or natural colors like soy sauce, ketchup, and chocolate should be avoided until your teeth are no longer sensitive.
- As a general rule, anything that can stain a white shirt should be avoided for at least 24 hours in order to maintain and maximize your treatment.
Do Teeth Whiteners Work?
Yes, they do!
They work best for people with yellow teeth. Those with brown teeth or ones that are damaged and are purple or gray may not see as big of a benefit. Your dentist can recommend alternate treatments that may be the right fit for you.
It can be a complicated task to find the right solution for tooth discoloration, so it is best to consult a dentist who can pinpoint the cause and give you a treatment course to get your best smile.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Teeth Whitening?
You can expect to pay something close to $650 for professional teeth whitening. This figure can climb to $1000 depending on the products and the rates of your dentist. In most cases, the costs are well worth it.
Most people can tell the difference between professional teeth whitening after just one treatment. This is partly because of the strength of the bleaching agents that are used by professionals. At-home kits are capped at about 10% hydrogen peroxide, whereas in-office treatments are between 25% and 40% hydrogen peroxide.
Teeth Whitening Q&A
How Can I Whiten My Teeth Today?
If you are looking to whiten your teeth as soon as possible there are a few options you can choose from. The best option is seeing your dentist, but you can at least slightly lighten your teeth with these tools:
- Brushing with a tooth whitening toothpaste
- Use activated charcoal
- Oil pulling with coconut oil may help whiten the teeth.
How Can I Make My Teeth Whiter Naturally?
You have a ton of options to choose from if you are wanting to naturally whiten your teeth. These include:
- Brushing your teeth — a must for anyone wanting a bright smile.
- Using toothpaste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
- Oil pull with coconut oil
- Apple cider vinegar may help with teeth whitening
- Lemon, orange, or banana peels can be used to whiten the teeth
- Activated charcoal can help whiten the teeth
- Eat foods with high water content to help keep your teeth stain free.
Can You Whiten Your Teeth At Home?
With so many at-home kits on the market today it is easy to whiten your teeth at home. There are so many gels, toothpaste, and whitening strips to choose from. Some can even give good results within the first week of use.
La Verne Dental & Implant Center in La Verne, CA can do all the necessary dental work to determine the option that’s right for you. La Verne Dental & Implant Center proudly serves the La Verne area with a full range of Dental & Implant services. Give us a call at (909) 596-1155 to schedule an appointment.